January 2009

Itty Bitty City

January 30, 2009

There is a kids program called Itty Bitty City run by the City of Longmont, and it is great for toddlers.

It has been years since we have taken Drew to this, and it was very odd taking the girls for the first time.

Jamie took some time away from work while Drew was at preschool to go with Tracy and the girls. The girls loved it!

Brie coming through the tunnel

Lexi at the end of the tunnel

Daddy pulling Brie on a scooter with Sister there too

Climbing, as usual

Our Lexity

Daddy and Lexi looking in the tunnel for Brie

Mommy and Her Girls playing

Mommy helping Brielle with roller skates

Disney World: Day 11 - Last Day

January 18, 2009

All good things have to come to an end, and we were very sad to have to leave Orlando and Disney World and come back to our normal day-to-day lives.

It was good to be back home, for sure. No matter how far you go or how long you are gone, it is always good to be back home.

We packed up late last night and early this morning and were able to be at the Magic Kingdom at 10am, an hour after it opened. This is an AMAZING feat that nobody but us probably understand.

We rode a lot of favorites again, and the time to leave came up very, very quickly. Soon we were on our way to the airport, and then in the air.

This was the quick end to all the fun. Tracy got a terrible headache soon after takeoff, Jamie got simultaneous leg cramps on the flight while standing to take Drew to the bathroom. The girls were not happy to be on the flight, and when we finally did get to Denver, get to the car, get packed up and about to drive away, Drew needed to go to the bathroom again. We were so loaded down that we had to unload many suitcases just to get him out. When we got back in the car and packed in again, we were not two minutes down the road when Lexi threw up on herself and the car. That left us on the side of the road cleaning up the mess. We FINALLY made it home, and not a moment too soon. Lexi threw up again all over the kitchen floor.

The end of our Disney vacation was the beginning of one of the worst weeks we have experienced as a family. Obviously, we are scared to have our kids fly anywhere because it seems they throw up on arrival.

Even with this terrible arrival back home, we still have wonderful memories of our Disney vacation and it took several weeks for the Disney Withdrawl to wear off, although still not completely.

Drew LOVED the Tomorrowland Speedway the best
Here he is driving Daddy again

The kids at the Orlando airport

One last picture at the airport before heading to the gates
(We had no idea at this point that it was actually the gates of hell.)

Disney World: Day 10 - Magic Kingdom

January 17, 2009

Today was our last full day at Disney World. It had gone by so fast, and we were very glad we had planned such a long vacation. Kind of crazy to plan such a long trip with our kid's ages, but it worked out perfectly, and we didn't want to leave.

We spent today, as planned, at the Magic Kingdom. This was a Specto Magic (light parade) day, so the park was busier than normal, which we expected, so we arrived at park opening and rode as many favorites again as early as possible.

The weather was very nice today, and we got to do a lot in the park.

When it came time for dinner, we had reservations at a character meal at the nearby Grand Floridian. We took a quick water shuttle there, ate with a lot of royal characters, and took a quick monorail ride back. Next trip, if we can afford it, we are definitely going to want to be on the monorail...or at the Boardwalk...we'll see.

We ended the night with a great spot for Spectro Magic and subsequently Wishes (fireworks).

It was a great last day, and a great "ending" to our vacation. Not quite the end....tomorrow we would be back in the park before heading to the airport.

Drew driving Mommy in a race car

Drew and Mommy exiting the Tomorrowland Speedway

Drew driving Daddy in a race car

Lexi waiting for Daddy and Drew to finish the race cars

Drew on the Carousel

Lexi and Mitty inside the treehouse in Pooh's Playful Spot

Lexi and Brie at Pooh's Playful Spot

Lexi on a bridge in Pooh's Playful Spot

Daddy and Brielle

Lexi & Brie at Pinnochio's Village Haus (pizza joint)

Andrew about to climb the beanstalk
(not really)

The girls during one of their common stroller naps

Andrew exploring Tom Sawyer's Island

Daddy and the kids near the Grand Floridian before dinner

Drew meeting Prince Charming

Drew introducing WaWa to Cinderella

Drew listening well to the Cinderella's Stepmother

Drew smiling like a Stepsister
(unfortunately, not on purpose)

Drew with Stepsister #2

Mommy and Lexi back at the Swan after a wonderful day

Disney World: Day 9 - Downtown Disney and Hoop Dee Doo

January 16, 2009

Today was a planned "Free Day" which is meant to give us a break from the Go, Go, Go of the theme parks.

This free day we decided to return for more bilking, er...shopping at Downtown Disney.

We ate lunch at the T-REX Cafe, which is similar to the Rainforest Cafe (same owners) but is themed around prehistoric times (dinosaurs).

We left directly from Downtown Disney to drive to the Wilderness Lodge to catch a bus to see the Hoop Dee Doo Revue music and slapstick comedy show.

The kids absolutely LOVED this show, and we enjoyed it too. There is nothing like seeing your kids banging and scratching their spoons on a washboard at the end of the show, making as much noise as they possibly can.

We had front-row seats and Drew was just mesmorized by the show, and he caught a lot of the humor, just by seeing them act it all out, because he didn't understand a lot of the jokes.

This was our first time to this, and it will definitely not be our last. This will be on the itinerary on every future trip we think.

View of the Dolphin hotel from our balcony

View of the Dolphin, our hotel the Swan, and the Yacht and Beach Club resorts from our balcony

Lexi & Brie about to be eaten by a prehistoric snake at T-REX Cafe in Downtown Disney

Drew at our Ice Cave table at T-REX

Jamie and the kids by a triceratops

Brie about to wake a baby triceratops

Mommy and Drew filling up a box with Mr. Potato Head pieces
(Daddy was subsequently congratulated by the cashier after he-repacked the box with more pieces)

Kids at Play

Brie and Lexi at Downtown Disney

The whole family at Downtown Disney Marketplace

Mommy and Drew in the Downtown Disney parking lot

Making noise at the end of Hoop Dee Doo

Epcot fireworks as seen nightly from our balcony

Disney World: Day 8 - Disney's Hollywood Studios

January 15, 2009

We spent the entire day today at Disney's Hollywood Studios, formerly Disney/MGM Studios.

Today was one of the most cold days we had during our entire vacation.

We were looking forward to this day because there are some special Playhouse Disney preschool attractions in this park, and we were looking forward to Fantasmic to end the day.

Unfortunately, Fantasmic is only shown two times per week, which made this park extra, extra busy today. Not only that, but it is hard to tour this park because everything is show-based, which means scheduled times, and if you miss a show time, you may miss the attraction entirely.

We started off at Playhouse Disney Live on Stage and that was very good for all of our kids. Next we met some characters and then headed to an early character lunch at Hollywood and Vine. We really didn't get to do too much until we saw the Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show, which Drew just LOVED. We then took a break and headed back to the car in the parking lot for a while until it was time to head back in the park for an early dinner. We had to eat early in order to be finished in time to get to Fantasmic.

Fantasmic made it all worthwhile, and from that point on Drew said he only likes fireworks with a Dragon and a Snake.

We were definitely a bit disappointed with Hollywood Studios. It may be better with fewer people, or on a warmer day, but for our kids ages, this is probably our least favorite park. We did have a good time, but we would return to any of the others again over this one for the rest of this trip.

Drew at the Playhouse Disney Live on Stage show

The whole family with Mickey Mouse

Drew and Brie with Rhino from the movie Bolt

Drew and WaWa with JoJo and Goliath

Drew and Brie meeting June from the Little Einsteins

JoJo and Brie at Play and Dine at Hollywood and Vine

JoJo and Drew at Play and Dine at Hollywood and Vine

Meeting Leo from the Little Einsteins and Goliath

More with Leo and Goliath

Drew having fun at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area

Drew climbing at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area

Drew in front of the entrance to Lights, Motors, Action!

Kids in the back of the rental van in the parking lot for rest time

Drew posing with Lightning McQueen and Mater

Drew by a Miss Piggy fountain on the way from dinner to Fantasmic

Drew and Daddy with a sleeping Brie waiting for Fantasmic to start
(Drew would be asleep too in a few minutes from this photo)

Sleepy Alexia

Disney World: Day 7 - Animal Kingdom

January 14, 2009

We started our seventh day at Disney World very early because we had reservations at Donald's Safari Breakfast in Animal Kingdom an hour before the park opened. It was kind of neat being in the park by yourself, before everyone else is let in. This was also Jamie's first time in the park since the race a week ago.

Breakfast was good, but a bit hectic. When the park opened we were ready to go and we started our day. The kids loved the Boneyard which is a big kids play area with rope ladders, a dig site and slides. We also saw the new Nemo show, Festival of the Lion King (which Drew, Lexi and Mommy were a part of!) along with pizza for lunch and ice cream for a snack.

We ended the day with a ride on the Kilomanjaro Safari. It was a very good, very fun day.

Drew and WaWa meeting Goofy again

Lexi greeting Goofy

Daisy and Brielle

Lexi and Drew greeting Daisy

Donald with Andrew

Mickey with Drew and brave Brie

Mickey with a newly-brave Lexity

Drew climbing at the Boneyard

Mommy digging with her kids at the Boneyard dig site

Mommy with her Brielle

Nemo Musical Show
(Somehow Tracy configured the camera to get this without a flash)

Ice cream snack in line for Festival of the Lion King

Chip and Dale with our kids and Mommy

Brie gave a big hug to Chip

Our family with the Tree of Life and Everest in the background
(We saw Everest being built on our 2004 Disney World vacation)

Disney World: Day 6 - Magic Kingdom

January 13, 2009

Today was our scheduled visit to the Magic Kingdom. And, of course, it was the only day on the whole vacation that it rained.

Looking back, the rain could not have come on a better day, because we had more days planned at this park than any other, and this was a short day with a long, sit-down meal inside of Cinderella's Castle for lunch.

We rode as many rides as possible in the morning, as it was not yet raining, and toured the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse when it was starting to drizzle, and we used the custom-built rain cover for the girls stroller (which they HATED) and they didn't even realize they were the only dry ones in the bunch!

The lunch in the castle was WONDERFUL and it was nice to be warm and dry overlooking rain-soaked guests in the park below. We had a great window table and the whole restaurant is well-themed, too.

After lunch we basically just left to go back to the hotel, which was the plan. We may have stayed a bit longer if it were not for the rain, but we had a full day in by that point anyway, and didn't want to push it with the rain.

It was the perfect day to have a scheduled character meal that was right in our hotel. Very nice to just go down the elevator to dinner.

We really enjoyed our meal at the Garden Grove at the Swan. It was not filled at all, but the food was hot and fresh and we got extra time with Goofy and Pluto because of how few guests there were.

You never forget the squealing sounds your four-year-old makes as Pluto plays peek-a-boo with him from across the restaurant, popping up from behind a ledge in different places. The extra attention and time with the characters made this one of our favorites and we left very full and with lots of great memories.

Arriving at Magic Kingdom in front of the castle

It's A Small World
(You have to do it at least once with the kids)

Drew outside the "Spooky Castle" which is really the Haunted Mansion
(Is that a gang sign?)

Mommy and her boy at the Jungle Cruise entrance

Andrew in his poncho exploring the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse

Hanging out with Aurora

Drew getting a hug from Belle

Our kids with Snow White

Lexi blowing kisses with Snow White

Jasmine and Andrew

Drew with his new sword from Cinderella's Royal Table

Eating buttered noodles. Yum!

Mommy and Lexi

Drew wearing his chocolate crown from his ice cream

Daddy and the kids in the rain

Mommy with the kids in the rain

View of our hotel from our balcony

View of the Dolphin hotel from our balcony

Drew and Pluto at the Garden Grove at the Swan

Drew and Goofy with Lexi looking on

Brie giving kisses to Pluto

Lexi waving at Pluto

Drew giving Pluto a BIG hug

Disney World: Day 5 - Downtown Disney

January 12, 2009

Having left our schedule in the dust by going to the beach yesterday, we didn't quite know what to do today, when we were planning on heading to the beach.

Yesterday was scheduled to be at Sea World, but we decided to nix that because a single day would have cost us over $400 including admission and food, etc., so we decided to check out Downtown Disney today.

Because the kids loved Epcot so much, we decided to head to Epcot first, go on a few favorite rides, and then take a bus to Downtown Disney before returning back for an afternoon rest before dinner at Boma, an African-type buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

It was noticeably colder today, in striking contrast to beach wear yesterday.

We took two buses to Downtown Disney from Epcot and had a nice lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Then it was shopping, shopping, shopping at the Christmas store, Lego store and many (many) more.

Before we knew it, it was time to head to Animal Kingdom Lodge as quick as possible, no afternoon break today. We made it just in time and had a nice dinner at the very-packed restaurant. This was one meal Jamie was really looking forward to, and it was a bit disappointing with how busy it was. In addition, he thought the African-themed dishes were bland and expected a bit more. Either that is just how the dishes are supposed to taste, or they are prepared for "the masses" and have to be made bland enough so nobody is upset by the dish.

We were more than ready to be back at the hotel by the time we were done taking a two-bus combination to get back there. We decided that when we come back to Downtown Disney, we will drive our rental minivan instead of using the Disney transportation.

Playing in Epcot's fountains

Brie was a tired girl to start out today

Family photo with Spaceship Earth in the background

Brie at Rainforest Cafe

Daddy and his Lexi girl at Rainforest Cafe

Mommy and her kids outside the restaurant

Drew selecting Legos to fill his Lego cup
No surprise he wanted a LOT of yellow blocks

Daddy and Drew playing Tetris to try to fit as many Legos as possible into the volume inside the cup

The three kids outside at Downtown Disney Marketplace

On the bus either to or from Downtown Disney
The bus driver took this photo and it is as good or better of our whole family than most the pros took

Lexi at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney World: Day 4 - The Beach

January 11, 2009

We changed our planned schedule a bit and went to the beach today because the weather reports show that this will be the warmest day of our whole vacation, and the rest of the days will be much cooler.

This turned out to be a great decision. The highs were in the 80's at the beach and, although it was windy, it was a very nice day at the beach. We chose Daytona Beach because you can drive right on the beach, which turned out to be great for our family. Tracy and I visited Cocoa Beach four years ago and had to walk from a parking lot, which would not have worked well this trip.

Tracy packed a lot of sand toys and it was well worth the extra baggage to have them at the beach. A nice sand castle was built, and Drew loved to run down to the water to fill his bucket in order to fill the castle's moat.

This was one of our "rest days" and it was just that. We didn't do much but play at the beach, drive back "home" and have a nice dinner.

Drew on the beach after we first arrived

All three kids figuring out what the beach is

Andrew running from the incoming waves

Playing in the sand

Brie, the 1950's pinup

The Sand Castle

Our Brie

Mitty the Daddy

Little Lexity

Disney World: Day 3 - Epcot

January 10, 2009

Today was our first day to visit Epcot.

We woke up first thing in the morning in order to be at Epcot right when it opened. Our hotel has a water taxi that takes you to the back entrance to Epcot. Our plan was to head straight for Soarin so we could ride it multiple times. That is exactly what we ended up doing, sort of. Drew was a bit scared at first, but he ended up riding it two times, once with Mommy and once with Daddy.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon riding the "kid" rides at Epcot, of which there were PLENTY. We expected today to be the only day in Epcot, but that started to change as we spent time there. We ate lunch at Coral Reef which is a very nice restaurant with a large, private wall looking right into the huge acquarium. The food was fantastic, but it was a bit too nice for a family like ours and the noise we generate. It was a great meal, regardless, and we will definitely be eating here again on future Disney World trips.

We left in the early afternoon, heading back to the Swan via the water taxi for a rest. And Drew actually fell asleep! We headed back later than night for dinner at Marrakesh, a Moroccan restaurant, which was one of Tracy's favorites of our whole trip.

After dinner was the Illuminations fireworks show, and we had a great spot and Drew really liked them. Heading back to the water taxi, Jamie remembered that there is a walking path from Epcot to the nearby hotels. We decided to walk instead of waiting in the long line for the taxi. This was one of the best decisions we made. Not only was the walk short, but we were introduced to the Boardwalk, which is a really neat place. We were tired and didn't spend any time there, but we would later.

Tonight was one of our latest nights, ending after 10pm. We headed back to our hotel for a good night's sleep.

Drew and Daddy waiting for the Water Taxi as one leaves for Disney's Hollywood Studios

Brie and Lexi in the Water Taxi

Andrew getting eaten by the shark from Nemo

Kids having fun at one of the many Kidcot stations

The whole gang with Mickey Mouse

Andrew meeting Pluto

Pluto wearing Mitty's Smitty hat

Minnie and Drew

Donald meets our little boy

Goofy and our Andrew

Andrew gave up during our rest time back at the Swan

Lexi at Marrakesh for dinner

Our spot for the Illuminations fireworks

Daddy and the half-asleep (well, a third asleep) kids walking toward Epcot's back entrance

Mommy and her Brie on the walk back from Epcot

Brie is seemingly wide awake back in the hotel room

Drew had a great day!

Disney World: Day 2 - Magic Kingdom

January 9, 2009

After the race there was no reason to waste the rest of the day. So, we packed up the kids and headed to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day.

We started with a character lunch at the Crystal Palace and then just let Drew guide us to wherever he wanted to go. That is a memory we will never forget, seeing our little tour guide boy walking around with his WaWa pack around his waist and a park map in his hands. We will have plenty of days to be on a schedule, today was Drew's day.

On the tram from the parking lot to the Transportation and Ticketing Center

On the Monorail to Magic Kingdom

Waiting to eat lunch at Crystal Palace across from Cinderella's Castle

The Girls and Tigger

Drew with Tigger

Only picture with Eeyore

Piglet!

Brie and Pooh

Tour Guide Drew

Mommy and Mitty waiting for the show
They wanted Drew to be up in the show with the Stepsisters, but he declined.

Daddy and Lexi waiting in line to see Mickey Mouse

Mitty and Mickey and Minnie

Disney Magic

Disney World: Day 2 - The Race

January 9, 2009

Jamie woke up before 5:00am (3:00am adjusted time) and headed to his 5K race at Animal Kingdom.

Please check out a full description of this day in his running blog.

No need to re-explain the same day again here, so read on the other page and look at some additional photos below.

Ready to run!

Running through Africa

Finish Line!

Really Tired and Really Happy

Disney World: Day 1 - The Airport

January 8, 2009

After more than none months of training (by Jamie) and planning, we boarded a plane to Orlando today to start our Disney World vacation.

We only have a couple of photos, because frankly, there wasn't any free time or availability sanity to take more.

We got up well before the sun today, after going to sleep well after the sun the night before. Drew was VERY hard to wake up and kept explaining that it was still nighttime.

We arrived at the airport just as the sun was coming up, not knowing how we were going to get all of us and all our bags to Orlando and then to our hotel.

We were never more of a circus as we made our way through security and onto the plane, installing the girls' carseats and getting all set.

The worst was over, or so we thought. As we finally were settling into our room and ready to start getting the kids to bed, the vomit started flowing.

We expected that Murphy was with us on this trip and that we were in for eleven days of sick kids, but it turned out that our kids just don't do well with flights (see the last day of our trip for details).

This night was VERY late with Jamie getting Drew and Lexi to sleep after Tracy cleaned them up. The hotel sent a crew of four to clean up the mess and change the sheets on the bed. Then Tracy and an insistent Brielle spent the next couple of hours at the Dolphin hotel next door in the guest laundry. Jamie tried to clean up, prepare for the early morning race the next day and get some sleep.

Brie and Lexi in the Denver airport

Drew in the Denver airport

Andrew asleep on the floor after getting sick (where he spent the whole night)

Alexia asleep on the bed after getting sick

New Year's Day

January 1, 2009

In what is quickly becoming a tradition, we had our good friends the William's family over to spend New Year's Eve into New Year's Day with us.

The kids seem to play well together, even more so this time than ever before.

We did make it to midnight, but not long after that. Last year we played games for hours into the morning, and then paid for it the next day....and the next week.

Daddy and his kids

Brady having fun

One of those unique Twins Moments